Friday, March 13, 2020

New Supreme Judicial Court Orders Regarding Courthouses Access and Empanelment of Juries

[1] Supreme Judicial Court Order regarding access to state courthouses & court facilities 


[2] Supreme Judicial Court Order in re: COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic regarding empanelment of juries 

[1] In light of public health concerns arising from the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and the State of Emergency declared by the Governor, the Court, pursuant to its superintendence authority, issues the following ORDER to protect the public health by reducing the risk of exposure to the virus and slowing the spread of the disease.
Effective immediately, the following persons shall not enter any Massachusetts state courthouse or other state court facility, including, but not limited to, probation offices:
Persons who have been diagnosed with, or have had contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with, coronavirus; Persons with apparent symptoms of coronavirus, such as fever, severe cough, or shortness of breath; Persons who have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, board of health, or other medical provider, or health agency, or who reside with anyone who has been asked to self-quarantine; Persons who have travelled to the following countries within the last fourteen (14) days:
South Korea
(The list maybe updated as further guidance is received);

Persons who reside or have had close contact with someone who has traveled to any of the above-named countries within the last fourteen days. Anyone attempting to enter in violation of this order will be denied entry by security.
If you have a scheduled appearance or appointment at a state courthouse or other state court facility and you fall into any of the above-listed categories, you should proceed as follows:
If you are represented by an attorney, please contact your attorney;
If you have no attorney and are seeking emergency relief, please call the Clerk's Office for the court where you would seek relief;
If you are an attorney and you are scheduled to appear before a judge, please contact that session directly by telephone;
If you are scheduled to meet with a probation officer, please contact the probation officer or applicable probation office directly by telephone;
If you are a juror sitting on an ongoing trial or grand jury, please call the telephone number that you were provided with when you were seated on the jury;
If in doubt as to whom you should contact, please call the Clerk's Office for the particular court in which you were scheduled to appear.
These restrictions are temporary, but will remain in place until it is determined to be safe to remove them.
People who think they may have been exposed to coronavirus are urged to contact a healthcare provider immediately.

[2] Supreme Judicial Court Order in re: COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic regarding empanelment of jurie

Except as provided herein, all jury trials, in both criminal and civil cases, scheduled to commence in Massachusetts state courts between the date of this order and April 17, 2020, are hereby continued to a date no earlier than Apri1 21, 2020. This Order does not affect any case in which a jury has already been empaneled or where a jury has been selected for empanelment; such cases will proceed through verdict.

Upon a showing of exceptional circumstances, a criminal defendant whose trial is postponed by this Order may seek an exception from this order by motion directed to the trial court. No exception shall be granted except with the approval of the judge and the Chief Justice of the court department, after consultation with the jury commissioner.

The continuances occasioned by this Order serve the ends of justice and outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial. Therefore, the time periods of such continuances shall be excluded from speedy trial computations under Mass. R. Crim. P. 36.

Where a jury trial is postponed as a result of this order, the parties may seek a conference with the court to address matters arising from the postponement. Such a conference should be conducted by telephone or videoconference, where practicable. In criminal cases, where appropriate, a defendant may ask the court for reconsideration of bail or conditions of release. Nothing in this Order addresses the disposition of such requests for reconsideration.

No new grand jury shall be empaneled before April 21, 2020. Grand juries whose terms expire on or before April 21, 2020, shall be extended until that date.

Each trial court shall issue a Standing Order addressing further measures to address the coronavirus pandemic no later than March 18, 2020.

The Court may issue further Orders regarding this matter as necessary to address the circumstances arising from this pandemic.